It’s a beautiful day to have problems!
WHY? YOU ASK.
Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
This verse is not only applicable prophetically but also presently, for in this world, Jesus said we would have tribulations. Our Christian life is a race to be run (Hebrews 12:1). And that race, dear people, is not a one hundred-meter sprint. It’s a marathon according to - Matthew 24:13.
The Greek word translated “saved” in this verse is sozo, a word that refers to the full orb of God’s blessing. In other words, according to Matthew 24:13, those who endure the marathon will experience the blessing of God upon themselves, their families, their ministries, their finances, and their vocations. They will experience the full orb of God’s blessing in every area of their lives while they are experiencing big perpetual problems! The salvation, blessings, stretching and growth that comes from a problematic life is indicative of those who experience the adventurous path of Jesus and they see the beauty in it!
You have been designed to endure!
In the fifth chapter of his book, James picks up on the theme of enduring to the end… James 5:11
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful [compassionate], and of tender mercy.
This passage brings a question to our minds: “Lord, if You truly are merciful and compassionate, then why do You allow troubles to come against us and problems to plague us? Why don’t You do something, Lord?”
James says, “Remember Job. Remember the heroes of the Old Testament. Don’t lose sight of their example.” There was one prophet who felt exceedingly weary. His name was Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s problems were mounting on all sides, and he was about to throw in the towel as far as ministry was concerned. “Jeremiah,” the Lord said to him, “you have run against the footmen and if you faint in running against the footmen, how will you run against the horses? You’ve been engaged in some battles. But if you’re fainting now, what will you do when the horses come, when the big problems hit you?” (see Jeremiah 12:5). The Lord went on to tell him that the Babylonians were coming to carry the Jews out of their homeland. It’s as if God said, “You think it’s tough now, Jeremiah, but I see what’s coming, and I am preparing you by allowing you to go through these difficulties and trials. I’m allowing you to go through hard times to prepare you for what I know lies ahead.”
Now… If God used hard times to prepare Jeremiah for the Babylonians, why didn’t He save Himself and Jeremiah a lot of trouble and just destroy the Babylonians in the first place? For the same reason He doesn’t destroy the problems in our lives: because this world has rejected His rule. Ever since the Garden of Eden, mankind has thumbed his nose at God and demanded liberation, saying, “We’re gonna do what we want.” In fact… It is because all of humanity throughout all of history has rebelled against God that we have disease and death, pollution and war, troubles and problems. Not only in the world generally, but in our own worlds personally, whenever you and I rebel against the way of God, we reap devastation, destruction, and sadness. The Father does not promise to keep us from problems, but to be with us in them. Since He sees what is coming years down the road, He says, “I see what’s ahead and I’m going to work with you right now to get you ready. I’m going to have you race against the footmen so that when the horses come stampeding through, you’ll be able to endure.”
Do you feel like you are perpetually getting your legs kicked out from underneath you?
The beauty of getting kicked when you’re down!
I think of a Mama giraffe. When she gives birth, she does so from a standing position. This means when Baby giraffe is born, he immediately falls on his head ten feet to the ground. Mama then does something that absolutely intrigues me. After quickly stretching her neck down to check Baby’s condition, she stands upright once again, swings her front leg, and kicks him. Baby then tries to stand up, wobbles, and falls to the ground in exhaustion. No sooner does Baby collapse than Mama winds up her leg and kicks him once more. This happens, three, four, or five times until Baby finally musters up enough strength—the adrenaline flowing and terror filling his heart—to stand up.
Once Baby gets up on all fours, Mama again swings her leg and kicks his legs out from under him. And the process is repeated two, three, or four more times. The result? Within the first hour of his life, Baby learns how to get up quickly and to move away from Mama readily. Why does Mama giraffe do this? She’s not trying to be mean, but she instinctively understands that leopards, lions, hyenas, and jackals were watching the birth of her baby. Because giraffes are defenseless if they cannot move together in a pack, Baby must learn quickly how to stand up and get moving—even if it means getting mad at Mama and not understanding what she’s doing.
Maybe you can relate. “What are you doing, God?” you might be asking. “I just barely get up and BAM! I’m down again. I just get going and BOOM! I’m flat on my face once more. What’s happening?” The Lord is teaching you something. He loves you and me enough that even though we misunderstand Him, shake our fist at Him, or turn our back on Him, He says, “I know this is needed in your life in order that you might stand and be established, in order that you might be able to run with the horses, in order that you might endure.”
The secret to enduring problems
is the right company! God is with us.
Hebrews 11:24–26 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
Having grown up in Pharaoh’s court, Moses was in line to ascend the very throne of Pharaoh. Yet he chose instead to take on the reproach of Christ, for it was a greater treasure than the best Egypt had to offer. I like that! Sure, we go through suffering and reproach, tribulations and difficulties. But even they are better than the best the world has to offer us, with its heartache, disappointment, and disillusionment.
At forty years of age, Moses said, “I would rather be with God’s people and suffer than remain in this place where the pleasures of sin are for but a season.” And he split the scene. Then he began to lead the people out of Egypt. For forty years, he led them through the wilderness. It wasn’t easy. It was hot and dry. You think you’re going through dry times? Think of Moses! You think people don’t like you? Scripture says three million Jews rose up as a single man with rocks in hand, ready to stone him (Exodus 17:4).
How did Moses make it? How did he endure the rejection, dry times, and constant troubles from within and without? Look at verse 27: “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” In other words, Moses saw God’s hand in every situation.
Ya see folks, you have a choice to make right now in whatever you’re going through. You can either shrivel up and fade away like the shallow seed in Mark 4, or you can endure, seeing that God is not only with you, but God’s hand is in everything and everything is in His hand. He is the God who has been intervening on our behalf from the very beginning.
Look at God’s hand, and what will you see? A nail print. The invisible God became a visible Man in Christ Jesus. And as I see His nail-scarred hand, I have no choice but to say, “If You loved me enough to be pinned to the Cross for me and to plunge into hell for me, I will trust You, even though I may not understand what’s happening presently.”
What is faith? According to Hebrews 11, it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There is no such thing as “blind faith.” On the contrary, faith sees more than unbelief ever will because it sees into an entirely different dimension. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (see Hebrews 11:3).
The Hebrew word for create is bara, which means “to make something out of that which does not exist previously.” In other words, God made everything from nothing. It wasn’t that He refashioned material that already existed, but rather that He started “from scratch” when He spoke the worlds into existence. So, too, the world in which you live personally—your children, your job, your ministry, your marriage, and your finances—is presently being framed. You are framing your world, even as God framed this world by speaking the Word.
Think of a carpenter framing a house. The house is formed by how it’s framed. Maybe you have framed your world with unbelief and griping, complaining and doubting, saying, “Why me? How come? Where’s God?” Maybe you don’t like the Path you are on because things have obstructed your way, the road has been up hill all of the way, you’ve wandered off course or have felt lost and alone altogether. It seems to be a miserable place to live. Don’t blame God. You built it. You framed it with complaints, cynicism and faltering faith. We have another option. We can say, “By faith I will light my path and my world with the Word of God. I will study the Scriptures. I will claim the promises and speak them in faith.”
Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Today, right now, you and I can get on the path of trusting God, seeing Him who is invisible, and believing His promises—or I can murmur to my wife when I get home. God judged the nation of Israel because they murmured in their tents. In (Deuteronomy 1:27). Husbands and wives got together, spoke words of complaint and unbelief to each other, and a great plague struck the land.
This reminder is for us to speak the promises of God to each other. Go on record. Build a world and walk a path that is in accordance with the Word of God as revealed in Scripture. Speak words of faith, and you’ll endure, Note also, as you speak these words to others so will they. I am finding this to be so very true and impacting in those individuals who I really care for and love deeply. As I share the Truth and promises of the Lord with them they just continue to be strengthened and I just get more head over heels excited about them.
Winston Churchill, 248 pounds of solid inspiration, saw England through Germany’s blitzkrieg. As the Third Reich dropped thousands of bombs on London, Hitler felt, as did other international observers, that England would fall easily. But this bulldog of a man, Winston Churchill, went on the air time and time again, calling his nation to hang on and to believe. And England didn’t go down.
Years later, one of his alma maters, an exclusive prep school, asked him to speak at graduation. When he accepted the invitation, the headmaster of the school was elated. For weeks he told the student body, “Soon Winston Churchill is coming. The most powerful orator in history is going to speak here. When he comes, bring your pencils and paper and take note of every word he says.” Finally the day came. The graduation service began. The students, sitting behind the speakers’ podium, had pencils and paper poised. The parents and guests settled in for a long, inspirational speech. After many flowery introductions, Churchill finally arose from his chair, took the podium, and turned around to address the young men behind him.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never, never, give up.”
Then he sat down. The students were stunned. The audience was amazed. And none of them ever, ever, ever forgot it.
That’s what Jesus says to us. Never give up. He that endures to the end shall be saved.
So when the Father seems to be kicking your wobbly legs out from under you or when you seem to be running hard against the footmen, know this: It’s all working for your ultimate salvation. Endure, folks, by seeing the invisible. Endure by framing your world with faith.
And never give up.
You can run with the horses If you recognize the beauty of a problematic path then you have discovered that this is what an adventure on the path of Jesus looks like!
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John is Pastor at The Redeemed Adventure Project and Author of various Adventure Journals, Fireside Challenges, and Blogs excerpts from books he written over the last 12 years.